For the first time all season, the New Jersey Nets will take the floor without the drama of the Dwight Howard situation hanging over their heads. With the Magic star staying in Orlando at least through the end of this season, the Nets will shift their focus to what they believe can be a push for the playoffs.
If the Nets are going to be serious about making a move in the standings, it starts Saturday night against the struggling New Orleans Hornets at the Prudential Center in Newark. That kicks off a stretch of six out of seven games at home with all being winnable for Avery Johnson's squad.
New Jersey also gets the benefit of a nearly full roster of players. Brook Lopez is still out with an ankle injury, but injured point guard Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar will return to the court. The Nets also will debut a new starting small forward in former All-Star Gerald Wallace, acquired in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers before the deadline.
The Hornets, meanwhile, will be playing without the services of Eric Gordon, Carl Landry and Emeka Okafor. They have also dropped three straight and 11 of 14.
You can watch the game locally on YES or list on WFAN 660 with tip schedule for 8:00 p.m.
After a day off to practice for the first time with Wallace, the Nets will be back on the court Monday in Newark against the Cleveland Cavaliers.